CBS Video Sites Score Big in March13 Apr, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
While the men’s college basketball final between North Carolina and Michigan State might have lacked in excitement, CBS Corp. April 13 said its online properties, including the March Madness on Demand video player, set records for unique visitors.
The annual NCAA tournament (“March Madness”) pits the nation’s top 64 men’s college teams.
Nearly 7.5 million unique visitors downloaded the video player, watching 8.6 million hours of content (including for the first time in high-definition) — up 58% from 4.8 million visitors last year. Indeed, more than 5.6 million unique visitors frequented the MMOD player during the first four days of the tournament, which ended April 6.
Underscoring the video player’s appeal during work hours, the so-called “boss button” — which superimposes a fake spreadsheet image over the player — was utilized 2.8 million times.
CBS cited March Madness for triple digit month-over-month gains at CBSSports.com in unique users (134%), visits (121%), minutes (158%) and page views (147%).
In addition CBS said TV.com, which streams repurposed content from more than 19,000 TV series, including non-CBS programming, recorded record traffic in March, according to Nielsen Video Census.
The site posted a 1,315% increase in unique viewers, 2,348% increase in streams and 1,190% rise in minutes spent on the site, compared to the same period last year.
TV.com and rival Hulu.com, co-founded by NBC Universal and News Corp., continue to encroach upon Apple’s iTunes platform while establishing new benchmarks for repurposed TV fare and movies on the Internet.
Perhaps taking a cue from rival Hulu.com, CBS heavily promotes TV.com during primetime broadcasts of “60 Minutes” and “CSI: Miami,” among other shows.
Independent analyst Rob Enderle says TV.com and particularly Hulu have begun to “out-market” iTunes in the repurposed online market.
“That shouldn’t be a surprise [since] it is their content and they have been promoting content for online for years,” Enderle said. “The surprise is that it took them as long as it did to gain this kind of traction.”
The analyst said with Apple not controlling the content, a battle is looming in which the technology giant may find itself at a significant disadvantage.
“With YouTube starting to move as well (it is in talks to repurpose Sony content), Apple will need to get creative if they want to remain one of the power players in this space,” Enderle said.